Recently in Recordings
The economics of the recording companies dictate much that is not ideal.
Wagner’s operas were not composed as they were in order to permit the
extraction of bleeding chunks, even on those occasions when strophic song forms
Among the recent recordings of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Valery Gergiev’s release on the LSO Live label is an excellent addition to the discography of this work.
While not unknown, the songs of Alexander von Zemlinsky (1871-1942) deserve to be heard more frequently.
Recorded on 5 and 6 May 2008 and 17 and 18 January 2009 at the Lisztzentrum (Raiding, Austria), this recent Bridge release makes available the piano-vocal versions of three song cycles by Gustav Mahler, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Rückert-Lieder, and Kindertotenlieder performed by mezzo-soprano Hermine Haselböck, accompanied by Russell Ryan.
Contraltos rarely achieve the acclaim and renown of sopranos. Assigned few leading roles in opera, they are condemned to playing the villain or the grandmother, or to stealing the castrati’s trousers in en travesti roles.
Following their 2011 Decca recording of Striggio’s Mass in 40 Parts (1566), I Fagiolini continue their quest to unearth lost treasures of the High Renaissance and early Baroque, with this collection of world-premiere recordings, ‘reconstructions’ and ‘reconstitutions’ of music by Giovanni and Andrea Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Palestrina, and their less well-known compatriots Viadana, Barbarino and Soriano.
Eternal Echoes is an album of khazones [Jewish cantorial music] for cantorial soloist, solo violin and a blended instrumental ensemble comprising a small orchestra and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.
Michael Tilson Thomas’s recording of Mahler’s Third Symphony is an outstanding contribution to the composer’s discography.
Oliver Knussen burst into British music with an unprecedented flourish. In 1967, the London Symphony Orchestra premiered Knussen’s First Symphony, with István Kertész scheduled to conduct.
Based on performances given in Summer 2010 at the Lucerne Festival, this recording of Beethoven’s Fidelio is an admirable recording that captures the vitality of the work as conducted by Claudio Abbado.
Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) was one of the most popular composers of his day in Poland, and of the many works he wrote for the stage, two are performed from time to time, Halka (1848) and Strazny dwór [The Haunted Manor] (1865).
The Polish alto Jadwiga Rappé is a familiar voice in various stage and concert works, and the recent release of a selection of songs by Stanisław Moniuszko (1819-1872) is an opportunity to hear her performing artsongs.
Originally released on multiple discs in 1981 this reissue on two CDs is a comprehensive collection of art songs by Italian and French composers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
An exciting contribution to the discography of this popular opera, the live performance of Richard Strauss’s Salome from the Festspielhaus at Baden-Baden is a compelling DVD.
Released in late 2011, Deutsche Grammophon’s DVD of the new staging of Berg’s Lulu at the Gran Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona is an excellent contribution to the discography of this fascinating opera.
A recent release by the Metropolitan Opera, this two-disc set makes available on DVD the famous performance of Berg’s Lulu that was broadcast on 20 December 1980 as part of the PBS series “Live from the Met.”
The novels of Sinclair Lewis once shot across the American literary skies like comets, alarming and fascinating readers of that era, but their tails didn’t extend far behind them.
Once the province of only the most dedicated opera fanatics, mid-20th century recordings of privately taped live performances have become more widely available.
Flute players in opera orchestra around the world must look forward to the frequent appearances of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, knowing that while the stage spotlight in the mad scene will be on the soprano, the orchestral spotlight will be on their instrument.
Since his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1971, conductor James Levine has come to represent the house’s commitment to artistic excellence — reliable, professional, and immaculately presented.
04 Jul 2007
DONIZETTI: Don Pasquale
An ingenious and handsome staging, in the proper period and full of delicious color, fashion and furnishings, a production that honors the compatibility of tradition with good fun, and four singers who look their parts, play the farce, and are as easy on the ears as on the eyes — what more could you want from a Don Pasquale?
Item: Pasquale’s handsome wood-paneled library folds into a box — to
be trundled on and off at will. But on the side of the box is a grand baroque
window to overlook the garden serenade of the last scene, and that ornamental
window looks suspiciously like a jowly old man with bald pate, bulging eyes,
pork nose and gaping, furious mouth — a pun on an ornamental style and on
the story of the piece.
Item: Part one concludes with “Sofronia,” fresh from her convent and
dressed in demure gray gown, bonnet and veil, usurping control of her new
“husband’s” home; Part two then begins with the remodeled home full of
rushing servants under the cold stare of that severe veiled figure — but
it’s a trick; it’s only the costume on a dressmaker’s dummy, soon
replaced by “Sofronia” herself in rather gayer attire.
Item: As “Sofronia,” now Norina, sings her last delicious waltz, a
befuddled Pasquale sits alone, sadly isolated with “Sofronia’s”
twinkling shawl — but Norina, with a kiss, and Ernesto, with an embracing
arm, coax him to accept his defeat.
In short, the director’s “business” and the designers’ jokes take
delicious advantage of opportunities found in the ancient story itself, but
never push them beyond the bounds of wit or taste.
Ferruccio Furlanetto is the unsophisticated old rogue who learns a lesson;
he sounds woolly and day-dreamy and fine, playing the unsophisticated
aspirant roué who is in fact too shy to speak to a strange girl, though his
delivery of the patter could be quicker. Nuccia Focile, whose soprano is
gratefully, sensuously darker than the chirp of such classic Norinas as Grist
and Sciutti, has no problem with the coloratura of “So anch’io la virtu
magica,” but comes into her own in “Tornami a dir.” Her slimness and
agility and very Italian features don’t hurt, and in her talent and vocal
quality and care for the style she is, I think, the best candidate among
young Italian sopranos for the mantle of Mirella Freni. Gregory Kunde gives
Ernesto’s music an endearing bloom with fine arching phrases, and he makes
a stalwart figure — for once our tenor is not a cipher. Lucio Gallo
connives but does not distract as the doctor, whose plot is — well — the
plot of the opera. Riccardo Muti, famous for following the score to the
letter, seems to have noticed that Donizetti intended his last comic opera to
sparkle; sparkle it does.